Mere' was the center of attention last night as we celebrated at Chuck E Cheese for her 6th birthday. I am amazed at how fast the time goes, as if everytime I turn around another year is over.
Mere's birthday is always an event in my mind. If I rewind, every birthday is another major milestone in her life.
She was born 13 weeks early, at one pound and 14 oz., to a crack mom who left the hospital after delivery and never looked back. She was the 5th child born to this mom who continued to make poor life choices while each child suffered more for it. I think I have dealt with my anger towards her, although when I see Mere' struggle with things that other children master easily, I feel my throat tighten and my stomach gurgle with the feelings.
I met Mere' in the children's hospital about an hour and 1/2 from our home. She had a feeding tube for nourishment that they had put in shortly after a major surgery that removed a huge portion of her small intenstine. Her tummy was a massive scar from hip to hip, and the TPN line was in her leg giving her life saving medications and nutrients her body was missing in order to thrive. My job was to learn how to care for her needs, bring her home as a foster child and keep her healthy until her adoptive family could care for her needs. I spent hours getting to know her, took instruction on caring for her TPN line, her feeding system and her wound care. I learned how to bathe a tiny baby that was hooked into all sorts of machines and tubing that sustained her. A month after meeting her, she came home, lock, stock and barrel. She began to turn her little head to the sound of our voices, while we stroked her rigid arms and legs, willing her body to relax. The longer I cared for her, the more possessive I became of what her future held. It seemed wrong to invest so much of my heart and soul into this little being, and then turn her over to someone else. We appealed to the state to adopt her, and at 18 months old, she became one of us forever.
She gradually ate on her own, advancing to the stage of removing her feeding tube and shortly after, having the wound repaired and closed. The surgeon also repaired the scars on her leg from surgeries just after birth, and we brought her home to heal again. Around 3 she had her first set of tubes in her ears, and her speech improved immediately. She advanced in her therapy sessions, both physical and speech, to the point where she was released from both. After a second set of tubes, she entered preschool. I would love to say she sailed through it, but school was a difficult time for her. She had her little brother in the same class, just 6 months apart in age. He thrived, she struggled.
By the end of preschool, Mere got glasses. What a huge difference that made!! She could hear and see now, and she was ready to soar!! This past summer we saw so much growth and change in Mere's whole personality. She seemed more confident and self assured, not as fearful and more willing to try new things. She often asks for the story of her scars, which I love to end with, "And God has a wonderful plan for your life!!"
So now, at her 6th birthday, I look back at all the ways she has grown, and it makes me smile. She runs and plays, laughs and giggles. Her sense of humor is so much like ours, and she gets the most enjoyment out of the simplest things. She's making it just fine in kindergarten, and has recently learned to write her name (although it's backwards and the e's are upside down!!)
It's been alot of work but so much more joy to help Mere get to this place in her life. She has so very much to offer with her joyful little life, and we are so grateful that our lives are entwined. We continue to watch her grow, constantly amazed at her grasp on reality, while enjoying the pretend world she creates with all her tiny toy horses, dogs and cats. She is alot more like her peers now, and we were not sure she would ever be at that level.
Happy Birthday, my tiny Mere'. I hope it's another great year for you.